by Jennifer A. Wickes ® 2007
History / Geography
Eggplants are native to China and India. They are believed to have been introduced to the Europeans by the Arabs.
Varieties / Season
July through October
Eggplants are members of the Nightshade family. Other members include potatoes, tomatoes and peppers. Despite the fact the culinary world treats eggplants like a vegetable, in biology, an eggplant is a fruit. Varieties include, but are not limited to: Japanese / Asian, Italian / Baby, White Beauty, Black Beauty, Burpee Hybrid and Early Beauty. Depending on these varieties, their colors range from white to a deep purple, they range in size from 2 to 12 inches (5 - 30 cm) and they can be oblong to round in shape.
How to Choose
Choose eggplants that are firm to the touch, have a smooth and shiny skin and are heavy. Avoid eggplants with brown or soft spots and have a dull color.
How to Store
Store in a cool dry place, but avoid placing near tomatoes and apples as they give off a gas that enhances the ripening process. Use the eggplant within 2 days. If necessary, the eggplant may be kept in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for as long as 5 days.
(1) Do not cook in an aluminum pan. Aluminum makes eggplants discolor.
(2) The skin is edible in younger eggplants. Remove the peel in older eggplants.
(3) Cut each fruit before using, just like bananas. The flesh of the fruit will brown.
(4) Eggplant absorbs oil very easily; coat your eggplant with breadcrumbs, cornmeal or flour first before frying.
(5) To help reduce the bitter flavor in older eggplants, slice the eggplant into ½ inch pieces and salt heavily. Weigh down each slice in a colander and allow for the liquid to drain out of the eggplant for 30 minutes. Rinse each slice with cold water and pat dry. This method is called "dégorgeing". It is best to use this method before frying.
(6) In order to bake your eggplant, slice your eggplant in half. S core across the interior of each half. Add tiny slices of garlic to go into each score. Salt each half, and bake in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes. The eggplant is done when it is nicely browned and tender when pierced.
(7) When wanting to roast your eggplant, cut your eggplant into 1/2 inch slices. Toss in olive oil, salt, pepper and any of the other suggested spices below. Arrange the eggplant in a single layer in a baking dish (not aluminum). Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. The eggplant is done when it is nicely browned and tender when pierced.
Basil, chervil, cumin, garlic, mace, marjoram, nutmeg, oregano, parsley, sage, savory, sesame seed, tarragon, thyme
Equivalents / Substitutions
1 pound = 3 1/2 cup diced raw = 1 3/4 cup diced cooked = 4 servings
Eggplants contain Vitamin C and Potassium. Other than these two nutrients, eggplants do not have a significant nutrient value. Eggplants also have anti-bacterial, diuretic effects, as well as flavonoids (cancer fighting anti-oxidants).
1 cup cooked contains 25 calories.
Depending on how you fix your eggplant, try drinking a Chardonnay, a Grenache Rosé or a Zinfandel.
• 2-eggplants, unpeeled, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
• 2-eggs, lightly beaten
• 1 1/2-cups breadcrumbs
• 1/2-teaspoon salt
• 1/8-teaspoon pepper
• 1-garlic clove, peeled and halved
• 3/4-cup olive oil
• 20-ounces canned tomatoes
• 1/3-cup tomato paste
• 2-tablespoons minced fresh basil
• 1-teaspoon salt
• 1/8-teaspoon pepper
• 1-cup grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/2-pound mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
Dip eggplant slices in eggs, then in breadcrumbs seasoned with salt and pepper. Refrigerate 20 minutes. In a large saucepan, sauté garlic in 2 tablespoons oil for 1-2 minutes. Remove garlic and add tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F. Brown eggplant in 1/4-inch oil in a large skillet. Drain on paper towels. Put a thin layer of tomato sauce into a baking dish and layer eggplant, sauce, Parmesan and mozzarella, alternately. End with mozzarella on top. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 medium dice eggplant
• 3 cups tomato concasse
• 3 cups medium dice zucchini
• 2 cups medium dice onions
• 2 cups medium dice, seeded green bell peppers
• 1 tablespoon minced garlic
• 2 tablespoons minced parsley
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, over a medium-moderate flame. Add the remaining ingredients (except parsley). Heat and stir for 8-10 minutes until softened, without browning. Add parsley-mix well. Arrange onto a serving platter. Serve warm, with crostini to the side.
Jennifer A. Wickes
Food Writer, Recipe Developer, Cookbook Reviews